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Hisham Matar

Author of In the Country of Men

15+ Works 2,515 Members 122 Reviews 1 Favorited

About the Author

Hisham Matar was born in New York City in 1970 to Libyan parents. He grew up in Tripoli, Libya, and Cairo, Egypt. His novels include In the Country of Men and Anatomy of a Disappearance. His memoir, The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land In Between, won the Pulitzer Prize for show more biography/autobiography in 2017. He also won the 2017 PEN America Literary Awards/Jean Stein Award for The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land In Between. (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Works by Hisham Matar

Associated Works

To the Lighthouse (1927) — some editions — 17,430 copies
The Wedding of Zein and Other Stories (1966) — Introduction, some editions — 258 copies
Four Letter Word: New Love Letters (2007) — Contributor — 134 copies
Granta 146: The Politics of Feeling (2019) — Contributor — 51 copies
The Guardian Review Book of Short Stories (2011) — Author — 50 copies


2007 (10) 21st century (13) Africa (51) ARC (9) art (25) autobiography (14) biography (17) book club (9) Booker Prize (11) Booker Prize Shortlist (21) Cairo (10) childhood (11) coming of age (28) dictatorship (16) ebook (11) Egypt (20) family (16) fiction (244) historical fiction (20) history (15) Italy (24) Kindle (12) Libya (224) Libyan (20) Libyan Literature (12) literature (25) memoir (85) Middle East (35) non-fiction (63) North Africa (11) novel (38) politics (18) Pulitzer (12) Pulitzer Prize (12) read (12) revolution (9) signed (10) to-read (174) travel (11) Tripoli (13)

Common Knowledge



Some books have an assured quality that is a pleasure to inhabit. A Month in Sienna by [a:Hisham Matar|35807|Hisham Matar|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1210621856p2/35807.jpg] is one of these. This is beautifully written, charming wander through Sienna’s streets, paintings, and thoughts by a man of fine intelligence. I’m fortunate to have known Sienna but it is not necessary for the reader to have been there to appreciate this book. Hisham Mater has alerted me to the work of the great fourteenth-century Arab scholar Ibn Khaldûn (the Introduction to history or The Muqaddimah which I will seek out.
I exist mostly on one side of time. Only in rare moments – for example, when I am with those I love or in times of great exuberance or when I am writing and the work is going well – do I feel free from the wish to be anywhere else. (p. 96)
Thank you for lending me this book Toby.
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simonpockley | 4 other reviews | Feb 25, 2024 |
A beautifully written, thoughtful look at how one event can change your life. Matar explores male friendship over decades all stemming from youthful worship on one hand and a traumatic event on the other. At the center is each character's relationship to home, Libya, in a time of turmoil.
ccayne | 2 other reviews | Feb 15, 2024 |
Growing up in Benghazi, Kahlid is affected by hearing a short story about a man eaten alive by a cat. He enrolls in the University of Edinburgh where he remains friends with Mustafa, also from his home town. When Mustafa convinces him to attend a political protest at the Libyan Embassy in London where violence erupts, Kahlid’s life is forever changed. The two young men can no longer return to either their home country nor to Edinburgh. Thus, Kahlid begins the life of an exile living in London.

He does have the opportunity to meet the author of the short story that had such an impact on him and they become friends. As the Arab Spring dawns and the political situation in Libya escalates, his two friends eventually choose a different path from him, returning to their homeland to be a part of the revolution.

Khalid recounts his history while taking a walk about his adopted city, passing places of significance, including where that protest took place. The novel is based on true events in the tortuous history of Libya (and the protest in London) and the effects of this history on three fictional friends.

Beautifully written and introspective, the novel expresses the pain of living in exile away from family and the countryside one loved as a child, as well as the constant fear experienced by political exiles. It was a bit of a slow read for me as Khalid’s musings do tend to meander and I wanted to reflect on every one of his thoughts and experiences.

Thanks to #netgalley and #randomhousepublishing for the arc.
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vkmarco | 2 other reviews | Dec 5, 2023 |
Here we have two untranslatable experiences. The first is friendship, which, like all friendships, one cannot fully describe to anyone else. The second is grief, which again, like all forms of grief, is horrible exactly for how uncommunicable it is.
from My Friends by Hisham Matar

I was mesmerized by this novel from the first sentences describing the parting of friends of twenty years.

It was a short story by Hosam that opened Khaled to the power of words and inspired him to study English Literature. Walking home from the station after seeing Hosam off, Khaled muses on the arc of his life and his relationship with pivotal friends.

Khaled won a scholarship to study English Literature at Edinburgh, where he met Mustafa, also from Benghazi. They attended an anti-Qaddafi protest and were shot. Now marked men, hiding from spies, Khalid couldn’t tell his family what happened and why he couldn’t return home.

Khaled remembers the Edinburgh professor who befriended him; Rana, the Lebanese woman to whom he first he shared his secret and who later in life trusted him to keep hers; Claire, the English woman he loved and lost. He remembers the writers who shaped him; Hosam, recalling their early, deep friendship forged when they met in Paris, and Robert Louis Stevenson whose “ease of his sentences, which have the honest and vital momentum of nature” they both admired.

During the Arab Spring, Khaled watched Mustafa and Hosam return to Libya join the fight against Qaddafi, both changed forever by the experience. But he could not leave the life he had made in England, knowing if he returned to Libya he would be a man without a country.

With its themes of friendship, family, exile, literature, and love, this gorgeous and moving novel is one of my favorite 2023 reads.

Thanks to the publisher for a free book.
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nancyadair | 2 other reviews | Nov 28, 2023 |



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